Showing posts with label black music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label black music. Show all posts

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Music Reviews: Jimmy Donley

Skilled people aren't necessarily nice or moral people. Today many folks like to "cancel" people. Maybe the consumer doesn't like the artist's politics. Maybe the artist is abusive to family members or intimates. The artist might be racist or sexist. The artist might be violent. The artist might just be a low quality human being.

I don't think the value of a person's art or the level of their skill is determined by their morality. Flowers can grow from crap. We are all different mixes of good and evil. The worst and best of us are still human.

The troubled singer/songwriter Jimmy Donley (1929-1963), who committed suicide in 1963, was a mix of good and evil. The Mississippi born Donley was dishonorably discharged from the Army in the late forties/early fifties because of his racism towards a Black NCO. Think about how racist you had to be to kicked out of the Army in the mid 20th century! Nevertheless Donley later became good friends with Black rock-n-roll icon Fats Domino, occasionally writing for and singing with Domino in integrated bands. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Giant Steps Explained

I enjoy listening to John Coltrane's piece "Giant Steps" but as I am not a musician or someone who understands much musical theory my eyes would always glaze over when musically talented people tried to explain to me exactly why the work was challenging. So I ran across this explanation and for a few brief moments I think I barely understood some of the basic concepts being discussed. Or not. Either way I liked this video. I liked learning how math, music, and physics are all linked. And I like John Coltrane's music.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Music Reviews: It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

The  song "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" was specifically written for the Motown movie Cooley High and presumably for the funeral scene in which it was used.

Although the world does not look kindly upon men crying I have always felt/joked that any man who bawls upon hearing this song gets a pass. 

The husband-wife songwriting duo of Freddie Perren and Christine Yarian Perren wrote this song. Plenty of people have recorded the song, most famously Boyz II Men, but I still think the film version, sung by G.C. Cameron, is the absolute definitive version, bar none. 

As a man of a certain age I am at the point where many of my older relatives have passed on. To me this song expresses the loss of loved ones while acknowledging that no matter what, life continues. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Music Reviews: Tarheel Slim -"I've Got You Covered/Wildcat Tamer"

Since the pandemic begun I've been listening to more old school original rock-n-roll, primarily though not exclusively created by Black people. There are many different iterations of this music. 
As mentioned before on this blog during the time much of this music was created and performed, the music definitions of today had not been created. 
A person might record a slow blues for one market, an uptempo rocker for a different market, a lugubrious plodding gospel tune for the church crowd or a horn heavy churner for people who just wanted to dance. So you can call this music rock-n-roll, jump blues, rockabilly, whatever. I just like it. I like to think myself well versed in this stuff but I have been surprised and humbled and even a little angered to discover just how much of this music I hadn't heard before.
One musician I discovered was Tarheel Slim, or as his birth certificate read, Allen Bunn. As his nickname indicates, Bunn hailed from the great state of North Carolina. Born in 1932 the baritone singer and guitarist had hits in various genres, including gospel, pop, doo-wop, blues, rock-n-roll, jump blues, rockabilly, and soul. There are two songs of his which stood out to me on the collections I purchased.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Music Reviews: Anne Laurie: Since I Fell For You

The song Since I Fell For You is a blues/jazz standard written by jump blues pianist Buddy Johnson. I was really only familiar with the Dinah Washington interpretation. I recently ran across an earlier version sung by Anne Laurie which dated from 1947. It's not as lush or as busy as the Washington rendition but I like it just as much. Its sparseness speaks to me. 

Maybe it will to you as well. Supposedly Washington herself listed Laurie as an influence. I wonder how much of today's music will still be relevant sixty or seventy years after it was released. Perhaps the best of it will. There was plenty of crap released in whatever Golden Age of music one cares to reference. Still, it's hard for me to let go of the idea that they don't write songs like this any more. The lyrics are equally applicable to men or women.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Kim Hill and The Black Eyed Peas: No Regrets

When you think about your career path, your romantic life or any other critically important life aspect do you ever have regrets? Do you think about the road not taken? Well many people likely do at some time or the other. 

However sometimes what some people call success is not the only thing you care about. Or to put it another way there are some requirements that might be necessary for material success that you simply aren't willing to do. 

I'm not just talking about clearly immoral, unethical or illegal things either. It could be something as simple as not wanting to move to your employer's Berlin office for eighteen months, being unwilling to laugh at a supervisor's unfunny jokes, or being utterly unavailable for work assignments on weekends or after 5 PM. We all have to make judgments every day about how important certain life goals are and what we're willing to do to accomplish them.

I vaguely remember Kim Hill. She was a member of the Black Eyed Peas before that group hit superstardom with a different sound and a different female singer. But Kim says she has no regrets. I thought her take was interesting.

In the mid-1990s, the singer and songwriter Kim Hill met a young rapper who suggested they start making music. That rapper’s name was, and his group was a rising Los Angeles underground hip-hop crew called The Black Eyed Peas. The rest is history — or is it?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Range Rover Evoque Commercial: Stolen Music???

I am not a musician or an entertainment lawyer so I can't say with absolute authority that the song "I found a place in my heart" from the new Range Rover Evoque commercial was stolen from the song "Every Beat of My Heart" as originally written by Greek-American musician and honorary Black man Johnny Otis and later covered by James Brown and most memorably, in my opinion, by Gladys Knight and the Pips. I can't say with 100% certitude that some one sat down, listened to someone else's music, stole the melody and rhythm and verbal phrases and tics and altered the lyrics just enough to avoid lawsuits from all but the richest or most protective of estates.

I can say that if there were ever a lawsuit by the Otis estate (or by whoever owns the rights to the song) against the person who claims to have written this song the defendant probably wouldn't want me on the jury. At all. Because all I would be asking the judge is can we convict the thief now. Or to put it another way, I despise plagiarists. But maybe I'm all wet. Listen to both songs below and share your thoughts.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Andre Williams Passes Away

I wrote before about Andre Williams here. He was one of the last of the old time rock-n-rollers/R&B giants. He just passed away at 82. If you happen to like old school R&B/jump blues/rock-n-roll and don't mind an occasional little lyrical smuttiness/nastiness in music then you might want to give his music a listen. 

As people have pointed out the Good Lord wouldn't have given you a tail feather in the first place if He didn't want you to shake it from time to time. RIP to a Detroit musical giant and one of the dirtiest old men who ever walked the planet. Andre Williams, who carved out a place in the 1950s rhythm-and-blues scene with earthy songs distinctively delivered, then fell on hard times as a result of addiction before enjoying a late-career resurgence, died on Sunday in Chicago. He was 82.

His son Derrick Williams said the cause was cancer.
In a decade when mainstream white audiences were watching “Father Knows Best” on television, Mr. Williams was recording provocative songs like “Jail Bait” (1957), a sly warning to men inclined to date teenage girls. It ends with a narrator pleading with a judge for leniency and promising to abandon his lecherous ways:
I ain’t gonna bother none 15,
I ain’t gonna bother none 16,
I ain’t gonna bother none 17,
I ain’t gonna mess with none 18,
I’m gonna leave them 20-year-old ones alone too,
Gonna get me a girl about 42.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Music Reviews: Pacific Gas & Electric

Pacific Gas & Electric,later known as PG&E after some unpleasant interactions with the utility company of the same name, was a late sixties/early seventies band based in blues-rock with a side order of soul and gospel. The band wasn't one which I think really stood out for instrumental virtuosity or songwriting skills. I think the band was worthwhile because of the soulful voice of the primary singer, Charlie Allen. The band was unusual then and now because it was integrated. 

I suppose this made it more difficult to get radio play as Allen's voice was unmistakably "black" while some of the guitar work sounded very "white". So perhaps the band was often too "black" for white radio and too "white" for black radio. So it goes. The band had broken up by the mid seventies. I don't think any of the band members ever hit the big time. That's life. But there were two songs of theirs which I liked a lot. The first is "Death Row #172". a bluesy lament in which a Vietnam Veteran on Death Row wonders about his approaching end, how he got there, and what happens next.

I like this song because it's a reminder that people can do evil things and yet not be evil themselves. I also love the bass line. Bass should always be heard and felt I say. The lyrics are pretty introspective. I'm not on death row but I do occasionally find myself listening to this song when I'm wondering about life decisions.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Music Reviews: I Don't Want Nobody: Eddie Harris

I can't remember when I first heard this song. It might have been from my father's collection. But it is just as likely to have been from one of my various uncles. My father might have found some of Harris' work too avant-garde. I know he had some of his music though. One uncle is adamant that it was from his collection and that the other uncle in question never ever ever had the piece. It doesn't matter. 

I not so recently picked up a cd with Eddie Harris and David Newman on it: separate albums. The Eddie Harris portion was his album release titled "I need some money". I must have had this cd for a year or so and just got around to listening to it in completion, which is when I remembered the song "I Don't Want Nobody". It's funny how music can jog memories and take you back to better places in your life. 

As mentioned before, Eddie Harris was one of those magical musicians who was equally at home in virtually all facets of music, particularly African American music. This release and this song straddled the lines among gospel, blues, jazz, soul, rock, classical and more while being all of them simultaneously. In this song Eddie Harris weds the old to the new. He opens up utilizing electronics to sing falsetto through his saxophone while laying down a gospel groove on organ. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Music Reviews: I Gotcha and Baby It's Cold Outside

I really like most of Joe Tex's work. I also like the Ray Charles-Betty Carter version of the standard "Baby It's Cold Outside". Recently on Facebook a relative posted the Joe Tex song "I Gotcha!" which Joe Tex performed on Soul Train, well rather danced and lip synced, with Damita Jo. I love this song and had never had a problem with it. The character whom Joe Tex is singing about is horny and wants to get down to business. There's no doubt about that. But is he a threat? Is he a would be rapist? Some women I know said they found this song distasteful or even intimidating and offensive. I was surprised. I never saw it that way. But everyone has different perspectives and responses. There's no accounting for taste. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the music you like or do not like.

I always thought that the song "Baby It's Cold Outside", particularly as sung by Carter and Charles, was about two sophisticated adults who were doing the dance that almost every man and woman have done at some point in their life with someone they like. I didn't see any coercion or threat. Unlike with "I Gotcha" I was aware that some people thought that "Baby It's Cold Outside" was a misogynist's how-to guide for rape, but some of the people who think that also seem to be hostile to any hint of male heterosexuality so I didn't pay them too much mind. 

In any event by today's lyrical standards in popular music both "I Gotcha" and "Baby It's Cold Outside" are quaint and damn near innocent bedtime lullabies. So it's difficult for me to see how anyone could see these songs as menacing or intimidating. For me that's a reach, but I could be wrong. I'm not a woman. So there's that. What's your call? Are these songs harmless ditties or sexist threats?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Music Reviews: Nikki Giovanni, Camille Yarbrough, Sarah Shook

Nikki Giovanni
Truth Is On The Way/Like A Ripple On A Pond
Nikki Giovanni is a poet, writer, professor and activist among other things. Her list of awards, works and accomplishments are far too long to list here. I think she's definitely one of the greatest living poets. She was one of the first poets I remember reading. My maternal aunt gave me her collection of poems titled "Ego Tripping and other poems for young people" all those years ago. Giovanni is often described as radical or militant or other such words but I think that those terms are limiting. Her politics and approaches to life have varied over the years, as with anyone else. 

If there is one theme in her work that hasn't varied it is that black people (especially black women) are human and beautiful. In the early seventies as now such a message may be thought of as militant or threatening but I never saw it as such. One thing that was current in the early seventies is that the music produced by black entertainers and musicians wasn't solely concerned with the lowest common denominator of sex and violence. There were actually still some themes of love and sacrifice. It seems like that's been lost in a lot of the music that is popular today but I could be wrong as I don't listen to much pop music. 

Hmm. Anyway, esteemed musicologists can argue over when and where rap begun. Some people confidently point to the late seventies South Bronx. Others will go back further in time and farther afield to Caribbean/Jamaican toasts or West African chants. Others will claim it was all started by spoken word performers/rappers like the Watts Prophets, Last Poets, Wanda Robinson, and Gil Scott Heron. Some will point to scat singers like Eddie Jefferson or Ella Fitzgerald, or rock-n-roll founders like Bo Diddley. Wherever you start the discussion of rap's creation and growth, certainly the spoken word albums that Giovanni created in the early seventies deserve some consideration. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

John Henry

John Henry was a little baby, sitting on his papa's knee
He picked up a hammer and little piece of steel
Said "Hammer's gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord
Hammer's gonna be the death of me"

The captain said to John Henry
"Gonna bring that steam drill 'round
Gonna bring that steam drill out on the job
Gonna whop that steel on down, Lord, Lord
Gonna whop that steel on down"

John Henry told his captain
"A man ain't nothing but a man
But before I let your steam drill beat me down
I'll die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord
I'll die with a hammer in my hand""

Now the man that invented the steam drill
Thought he was mighty fine
But John Henry made fifteen feet
The steam drill only made nine, Lord, Lord
The steam drill only made nine

John Henry hammered in the mountains
His hammer was striking fire
But he worked so hard, he broke his poor heart
He laid down his hammer and he died, Lord, Lord
He laid down his hammer and he died

John Henry" is a folk-blues song that is more closely associated with the Appalachian-Piedmont blues tradition than the Mississippi one. Like many of the best folk songs, it may have been based on real life events. It was certainly used as a rallying song during the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties. It has foreboding, superhuman heroic acts, and of course, death. In the very first stanza of the song the hero, then just a child, knows that he's not long for this life and will die in a heroic sacrifice. Of course, the nature of the sacrifice is debatable, especially in today's post-industrial world where physical labor often is considered suitable only for people not smart enough to do anything else. There are many different interpretations of this song. As with most blues songs there are several different lyrical variations. But every version hits the key points. John Henry was a steel driving man who, when threatened with loss of his livelihood via automation, takes up the challenge and beats the machine, but only at the cost of his life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino Passes Away

Fats Domino was a founding father of rock-n-roll. He passed away at 89. My brother always joked that a lot of the classic rock-n-roll and R&B songs out of New Orleans all sounded the same. I would counter that it was distinctive. Although the music may have seemed simple, when you listen to later rock bands (mostly unsuccessfully) attempt covers of people like Domino, you realized that there was more going on rhythmically than you might have realized. Fats Domino stood at the interstices of a lot of popular music.

Without Fats Domino rock-n-roll would have been much impoverished. Reggae and Calypso would be very different indeed. Listen to "Be My Guest" for a example of proto-reggae. His music swung. It is immediately recognizable. And I really love the clear crisp production with deep bass and upfront vocals. Even his sad songs were somehow still optimistic. A joy runs through all of his music. Fats Domino was apparently something of an introvert. And even on stage he preferred to let the music do the talking. Domino very rarely showed off the wild performance styles of fellow rock-n-roll pianists like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis. And since the piano isn't a portable instrument like the guitar, Domino rarely deigned to swivel his hips and drive the ladies wild like Elvis, Ike Turner or Chuck Berry. Nonetheless Fats Domino, as much as anyone else and more than most, could claim to be a King of Rock-n-Roll. Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm-and-blues singer whose two-fisted boogie-woogie piano and nonchalant vocals, heard on dozens of hits, made him one of the biggest stars of the early rock ’n’ roll era, has died in Louisiana. He was 89. His death was confirmed by his brother-in-law and former road manager Reggie Hall, who said he had no other details. Mr. Domino lived in Harvey, La., across the Mississippi River from New Orleans.

Mr. Domino had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t It a Shame” (also known as “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is the actual lyric), “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.” Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans, his hometown, and a droll resilience that reached listeners worldwide.
He sold 65 million singles in those years, with 23 gold records, making him second only to Elvis Presley as a commercial force. Presley acknowledged Mr. Domino as a predecessor. “A lot of people seem to think I started this business,” Presley told Jet magazine in 1957. “But rock ’n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Music Reviews: None of Us Are Free

None of Us Are Free is a song written by Brenda Russell along with the famed Brill building husband wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. If I didn't know better I would have thought that the song was an old traditional field holler or gospel song, although in retrospect I suppose the lyrics are a little more direct than those songs tend to be. It's hard to sing about how badly you want your freedom when the very person denying you your freedom is standing over you with a whip and gun. Anyway, this song is another example of how talent doesn't really respect race. Although the song has an earthy black gospel feel, particularly in the version I heard, Mann and Weil happen to be Caucasian Jews. So sometimes charges of cultural appropriation are balderdash. Either you have talent or you don't. Obviously these songwriters had talent. This song has been recorded by both Ray Charles and Lynyrd Skynyrd (!) but the version I want to share with you is one by late soul legend Solomon Burke with the equally legendary Blind Boys of Alabama on backup vocals. You really have to be someone to get the Blind Boys of Alabama to sing backup for you. And Solomon Burke was. Maybe that's another post. If you're not already familiar with Solomon Burke then you should become familiar with him.

Anyway I really liked Burke's interpretation here. And the lyrics are simple but biting. I thought they were inspirational. The lyrics reminded me of so many different struggles. It also reminded me that sometimes the collective is as important as the individual. This version was recorded live in the studio. It's not easy to find this sort of singing in what is today called R&B. I'm not saying that to be snide. It's just a fact. It seems as if baritone and bass voices have been all but exiled from modern black American popular music. That's a shame. But so it goes. Anyway check out the lyrics and song below.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Music Reviews: Smith Connection - I've Been A Winner

(I've Been A Winner, I've Been A Loser) I've Been In Love
Smith Connection
I was listening to the Invictus box set again and ran across this song which for whatever reason I hadn't paid attention to before. It's funny how that works. You can have something for years and discover new treasures. The Smith Connection was made up of a trio of brothers who hailed from St. Louis, not Detroit but it's a good thing that they came to the attention of the Detroit based label owned by famed producers/songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland (HDH). At the time H-D-H were doing their best to compete with their former employer Berry Gordy and his iconic company Motown. This song was very similar to contemporaneous work coming from Philadelphia groups like the Delfonics or Chicago groups like the Chi-lites. But the deep bass and scratch guitar mark it indelibly as a Detroit based production. I like the voices and harmony, which are very masculine albeit in the higher range. The song is not blues but it is bluesy. There's no guitar or horn solo. All the focus is on the vocals. Michael Smith, who I believe is the lead singer here, later went on to modest acclaim as a songwriter, producer and solo singer with Motown. The lyrics express sadness, love, maturity, regret and hope all at the same time, which I think is a pretty neat trick. I also enjoy that there's a lot of space in the recording. No one instrument dominates. Nothing is too loud. There's something to be said for the old maxim of keep it simple, stupid.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rap Music and Race

If you don't like rap music or more precisely certain types of rap music does that mean that you don't like Black people. Well it might. But as a pure question of logic of course disliking rap music doesn't mean you are a racist. One of the things that is funny about modern life is how thoroughly and completely many people came to associate rap music as the sole music which young black people were permitted to enjoy while still being "authentically" black. The flip side of this expectation is of course how fiercely some black people defend any attack on any type of rap music as being a a racist attack on all black people. Well maybe. Maybe not. I was moved to write about this because of a relatively recent incident in Houston, Texas in which the white female owner of a famed local club declined to book two rap acts because she found their lyrics offensive from both a gender and racial perspective. She also went on to make a few uncharitable comments about the type of people who came out to enjoy such music. She said that she would continue to book other types of rap music but of course by then the cat was out of the bag. Some comedians and musicians said that they would boycott the club because they felt unwelcome or that the owner was racist.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Music Reviews: What a Little Moonlight Can Do and Kitchen Man

What a Little Moonlight Can Do (as sung by Billie Holiday) and Kitchen Man (as sung by Bessie Smith) are two classic blues/jazz songs. Both songs express the joy of love but do so in lyrically different ways. I think you might say that each song is talking about a different aspect of love. Both are written from a female point of view. What A Little Moonlight Can Do is a jazzy swing song that captures the excitement,wonder and giddiness of actually falling in love. The noted Tin Pan Alley songwriter Harry Woods wrote the song. Ironically even though the song is incredibly optimistic and upbeat, Woods himself was an often depressed alcoholic who didn't mind putting hands on people when he found it necessary. Holiday's version of the song included a number of musicians who like her would become legendary: Teddy Wilson, Ben Webster and Benny Goodman. Kitchen Man is a bluesy piece that is much earthier. The love it describes is perhaps indistinguishable from physical lust. Kitchen Man makes uses of barely concealed double entendres. The singer is not falling in love but rather describing all the reasons why she is in love with the titular hero. And the love she's detailing really doesn't have a whole lot to do with moonlight or stuttering or uncertainty. The singer knows exactly what she wants. And she's going to tell you. Kitchen Man features Eddie Lang on guitar and Clarence Williams on piano. Eddie Lang was actually Caucasian (Italian-American born Salvatore Massaro) and had to resort to pseudonyms in order to record with black singers. Lang was one of the people instrumental (pun intended) in replacing the banjo with the guitar in jazz songs. Clarence Williams was not only a pianist but a composer, producer and music publisher among other things. For a time in the 20s and 30s he was the primary Black music publisher in the nation. He also produced songs for country artists such as Hank Williams. And he would become the grandfather of noted actor Clarence Williams III. I like both songs. Each singer had her own enjoyable and influential vocal style. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Reviews: In the Midnight Hour-The Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett

In the Midnight Hour: The Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett
by Tony Fletcher
This was a gift from my brother. This is a beautiful book. As far as I know this is the only complete biography of Wilson Pickett (1941-2006) that exists. There is a quote within the book that really tells you everything about the man who was also known as "Wicked". Picket said in 1979, speaking to another musical journalist that, "James Brown to me is strictly small time. Just some Georgian kid working in some cramped sweaty bar where the stage is so damn small there's only room for him and the drummer.". That Wilson Pickett was quite comfortable calling Soul Brother Number One "small time" and making fun of his show lets you know that if nothing else Pickett had a very healthy ego. It was this ego and drive, along with his earth shattering voice, leonine good looks, and regal stage presence that took him out of the Alabama backwoods to Detroit success and later stardom with New York based Atlantic records. Pickett pioneered the sort of hard soul singing that was strongly based in the black gospel in which he had grown up and first made his mark. Whereas James Brown was a screamer who could sometimes sing, Pickett was a singer who could and did scream in key. Brown might have been funkier but Pickett was soul. I thought the book was at its most interesting when it was detailing Pickett's early days on the Detroit music scene. People who would later become legendary were just kids trying to learn their craft while occasionally getting ripped off along the way. Some famous people went to my neighborhood school. There are also some uncomfortable facts which the book brings up. I knew that Reverend C.L. Franklin, Aretha Franklin's father and a civil rights activist and supporter, had a certain reputation as a ladies' man. I didn't really think less of him for that. Most musicians/celebrities have similar reps when you get right down to it. I didn't know that the good Reverend had fathered a child with a twelve-year old. Ugh. 

There's no evidence that Pickett knew about that sordid history. But it is a fact that the previously devout Pickett, who was a friend to Aretha and sang at the Franklin church, grew tired of singing to drunk people on Sunday mornings. As Pickett told friends, he might as well be performing secular music if that was going to be his audience. There are a few other unpleasant warts revealed but this is not a gossipy salacious tell all type of book. It doesn't dwell on the bad side. It just tells it like it was. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Music Reviews: The Big Bamboo

Ska, Calypso and Reggae are all interrelated forms of music. One of the original giants of calypso music, who was also influential in the beginnings of reggae is Grenadian-Trinidadian singer Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco). Mighty Sparrow has been performing professionally since the mid fifties. The songs which he sings often have a sense of humor. These songs aren't necessarily to everyone's taste but I usually enjoy them. One of his better known songs, which has been covered by a number of different people is The Big Bamboo, which is about the absolutely critical importance of the aforementioned renewable resource. This song has different lyrics depending on who is singing it. It may well be a traditional song where true authorship is lost to time. Some of the versions have different lyrics. The first version I heard was by the Mighty Sparrow but I've also heard good versions by other calypso singers like Duke of Iron, Mighty Panther, Wilmoth Houdini and Lord Creator. I heard a more recent version of this song by the musical group Ska Cubano, which as you might suspect combines a variety of Afro-Carribbean music, including but not limited to ska, reggae, calypso, salsa and soca. I like songs that on the surface appear to be about one thing but when you think about it are about something else entirely. Sometimes limits can inspire more inventive wordplay.